Pathophysiology of pain
Migration and economic progress have contributed extensively to lifestyle diseases. In 2018 the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 71% (41 million) of global deaths attributed to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) also known as life-style diseases. Due to the health burden, organisations such as the United Nations (UN) developed programmes and set goals to combat lifestyle diseases which strongly promoted exercise and nutrition. This has led to an increase in the number of professional and amateur athletes also in view of benefit for improving respiratory and cardiovascular health in the population. The rise of participation in exercise may result in elevated musculoskeletal injuries and consequently promote increased incidents of pain.
Principles of pain management in athletes: A holistic approach
Pain is defined by the International Association of the Study of Pain, as “an unpleasant sensory and/or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage”. Pain is a complex biopsychosocial phenomenon and exists to help the perceiver avoid more serious harm. Clinicians in the field of Sport and Exercise Medicine are exposed to athletes in pain on a daily basis. Indeed, it is the most common presenting symptom in the field of Sports and Exercise Medicine.
Inflammatory pain management
Pain is one of the most common symptoms reported in clinical practice and by the general population. The management of pain in inflammatory diseases requires a balance between efficacy and safety. The inadequate control of acute pain can lead to chronic pain syndromes and associated comorbidities. There is a substantial unmet need in this regard.
The most common causes of acute and chronic pain include:
• Nociceptive pain
• Inflammatory pain
• Neuropathic pain.
Psychological distraction skills for pain management
Over the last decade, the biopsychosocial approach has gained appreciation and popularity as a useful approach to conceptualising pain management. Recently, there has been significant interest and growth in the use of psychological interventions to manage pain. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage. Pain is a way in which our bodies alert us if something is wrong. Pain is more like a sensation like feeling itchy and numb. Experiences of pain is commonly associated with mental health concerns such as distress, dysfunctions with both physical and social functioning and poor quality of life. Pain is part of the sporting experience, regardless of whether the discipline is a contact or a noncontact sport.
Health Professions Council of South Africa
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Sports Pulse Vol 1 no 2 - 2022